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Socially-based Curriculum Units · The Human Rights Letter: Acting Through Writing to Make a Better World


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The Human Rights Letter: Acting Through Writing to Make a Better World

Socially-based Curriculum Unit

This unit, developed for ENG2D (Grade 10 Academic English), asks students to consider the concept of human rights and how that relates to personal self or “dignity,” and provides accessible hand-outs on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) for discussion and overview. Students are then asked to consider a particular right for individual focus and to write a letter which seeks to address that concern.

Student will understand that:

  1. Learning in the classroom can be action in the world.
  2. Writing is action.
  3. Ideals of justice, courage and heroism are well realized by an engagement with human rights.
  4. Human rights are bound up with personal and moral dignity.
  5. Persons who are “other” to “us” are also us, and not strangers.
  6. First World success often contributes to global human rights distress.
  7. Global action is not charity or guilt, but freedom and responsibility.
  8. Letters to others on matters of human rights concern are a source of great pleasure, both because they work and because they are an outlet for students’ concerns.

Key skills include knowledge of how to obtain via Internet a “human rights” profile of another country and how to investigate a particular issue; how to navigate and use human rights NGO websites; and how to write an individual or collective letter of action. Perhaps the greatest learning is the discovery that the power of action lies within the thought and mind of one’s own hand.

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